For those implementing new software programs at their businesses, time is always a concern—the time it will take to develop what kind of training you want to use, the time it takes to research the best methods to set this up, the time it takes for everyone to complete the training, and so on. The good news is that if you take the time to create the right process from the beginning, you can expect a lot of these actions to fall into place efficiently and within your deadline.
With this in mind, we've compiled some advice in managing training and education for a new software platform
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help yourself is to start planning early. In addition to segmenting users appropriately and finding subject-matter experts within your company, there are some processes you should put to use before you even begin. One of these is testing. Macros, code and other customizations don't always migrate successfully. When possible, engage some—if not all—of your users in the testing process and provide ample time to do so. Testing can identify integration challenges prior to deployment and uncover certain processes for which users need additional training, or that should be changed.
In addition to testing, an outside audit can be a useful first step if the platform is beyond your scope of expertise. By bringing in an outside expert to take a look at your current system and how you seek to change it, you can anticipate potential problems and training needs.
Before, during and after deployment, make sure your employees have a means to communicate questions, and encourage them to do so. At all three stages, send out email blasts to address commonly asked questions or concerns. This way you can minimize the amount of time you spend answering individual queries. It will also become very apparent whether the platform settings need any adjustments to better serve the group as a whole.
Use a combination of tools and training methods
As you've heard us point out before, people learn differently. In addition, you probably don't have the budget to cater to each of your employee's specific needs in an ad hoc manner. The easiest way to satisfy both of these issues is to use a combination of inside and outside training modules. While you do need to let your employees know you're available for help and additional training if they need it, you don't have to do it alone. For many software programs, there are outside specialists who can lead training in person or via video. For more esoteric platforms, some companies will even create new courses on your behalf. Online training options allow employees to complete the work within their individual schedules, maximizing the chance they actually get it done.
In addition to using inside and outside experts, use a blend of training structures. It's a fallacy to assume you need a hands-on instructor for all users. In actuality, there are lower-cost options that actually can work just as well for many of your employees. Webinars allow for a one-to-many teaching experience via a presentation that can be easily delivered to staff, and the webinar's attendees have a chance to ask questions if it's done live. After your deployment, initiate short coaching sessions to help boost use acceptance and allow users to address specific needs unique to their roles.
And perhaps the most useful tool you can have at the ready is training tracking. Be open with your employees and let them know you can see whether they've completed their training. No one likes to feel they're being spied on, and this way they know you're taking it seriously.
Make life easier for next time
Why start from square one the next time you introduce new software? A successful formula can be repurposed for future training. Take the time to celebrate a successful rollout, then prepare the outline of a template for future learning based on this experience. That way, your employees will see some familiarity and understand what's required of them.